Decree imposing tax on cell phone users termed premature
KABUL (Pajhwok): The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology on Thursday called the presidential decree imposing a 10 percent tax on cell phone users a premature decision, because the current system could not ensure transparency.
The Wolesi Jirga on Wednesday rejected with a majority vote the presidential decree, which had been endorsed by the Council of Ministers during the parliament’s summer recess.
In an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News, Deputy Minister of Communications and Information Technology Aimal Marjan said: “We were obliged to set the process in motion as a result of pressure from the Ministry of Finance.”
Without thinking about the current system, which had drawbacks in tax collection, the ministry wanted to start the process only for getting some money through the 10 percent tax, he reiterated.
Marjan argued the ministry, seeking revenue collection in a short span of time, could not activate a sound system to be connected with all telecommunication companies and get information about their revenues.
Under the current system, the ministry cannot directly link itself with the telecommunication networks on get information. So, it had to rely on the information provided by the companies, he said.
He added: “The ministry is striving to install the Real Time Data Management System in the coming four month to improve communications and coordination with telecom firms.
Baryalai Hasam, technical director at the ministry, confirmed the existing system was not directly connected with data centres of mobile companies and the required information was transferred manually.
He revealed work on the installation of a new system was underway to ensure transparency in the collection of 10 percent duty on phone users. The official, however, said the implementation of the new system might take more time but would satisfy everyone, including cell phone users.
According to Hassam, six month and $3 million are needed for the installation of the transparent system. “The new mechanism will identify the consumers of credit cards and send them messages of thanks.”
He expressed concern over lack of coordination from private cell phone companies, saying some firms did not cooperate in sharing details of tax collection from cell phone users.
He asked the government and the parliament to help the ministry in making the process effective and mounting pressure on cell phone companies to cooperate with them.
Meanwhile, Qais Hassan, head of the Wolesi Jirga information technology commission, said the government should have evolved a proper mechanism for tax collection before imposing the 10 percent tax on cell phone users.
He said there was no transparency in the collection of taxes and every mobile company, by its own choice, submitted its report to the ministry on the amount collected.
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